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How Otis is building ‘smart’ elevators of the future

Otis is now working on developing smart elevators which is capable of communicating with passengers, building managers, service staff and other building systems

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The wave of digital transformation is gaining pace in the industrial space as there have been noticeable deployment of IoT in the manufacturing industry, along with advanced data analytics, digital twin and various components of the industrial internet. New technologies are transforming the way we move, and rapid urbanisation has made the iconic bird-cage elevator and escalator major Otis to transform into a digital company. Otis Elevator Company is reinventing itself as a digital industrial company to meet the needs of customers in the digital economy and the era of intelligent buildings, smart cities and hyper-connectivity. It is integrating new digital capabilities with equipment and new customer tools to improve transparency and response time.

Speaking exclusively to Express Computer, Sebi Joseph, President, Otis India says, “In our industry, we are uniquely positioned to understand traffic patterns inside the walls of a building. We collect lots of data to understand how buildings operate, how buildings are used, and how people move through buildings; so we can get them to their destinations quickly, safely and comfortably.”

Otis is now working on developing smart elevators which are capable of communicating with passengers, building managers, service staff and other building systems.

When asked how Otis is leveraging emerging technologies, Joseph informs that Otis is harnessing the power of data analytics, machine learning and cloud computing to predict and prevent shutdowns. It is using this information to analyse trends on lakhs of connected elevators to create advanced algorithms that can predict performance trends. For example, an elevator shuts down an average of 3½ times a year. And 70 per cent of the time, it’s because of a door-related problem. Otis uses algorithms that can tell – with close to 90 percent probability – when there’s going to be a problem with a particular door. With remote monitoring and predictive analytics, it can concentrate resources on the elevators that need attention.

“We have built a powerful digital ecosystem that allows us to manage maintenance history, account details and other data in real time, so when customers ask about a support issue, we can confidently provide solutions that are transparent and accurate up to the minute. This same information is tied to apps used by mechanics remotely in the field. Instead of receiving a service call and arriving with no information, mechanics will be notified about the issue and parts needed before setting foot in the building,” Joseph shares.

In terms of technology trends, one of the emerging trends in the industry is collaboration on opportunities to enhance connectivity through the use of IoT products – services and technologies that employ digital technologies to better connect with customers and with elevators, escalators and moving walkway equipment. Through IoT and more connectivity, customers gain more transparency, information and a streamlined process, while maintaining and advancing the personal relationship. Otis is working with leading IT providers, including Microsoft and AT&T to develop its digital platform to enable connected elevators of the future.

A large part of Otis’ business is service and it is reinventing how service solutions offered to customers. The company is using IoT and data from the largest service portfolio in the world to enhance its ability to actively monitor and predict maintenance needs for each individual customer. Otis engineers are working to develop the next generation of elevators – ‘smart’ elevators. This new generation, will for the first time, connect manufacturing to installation to service. A smart elevator is capable of communicating with passengers, building managers, service staff and other building systems to improve the passenger experience and elevator performance, especially through improved elevator maintenance. Building on the theme of connectivity, it is incorporating smart, connected technology that delivers proactive, quick and effective diagnostics and repair.

On the repair and maintenance front, the company has adopted several digital initiatives. For instance, when mechanics are on site, they have digital tools and proprietary Otis apps to do their job more efficiently, to fix issues before they cause shutdowns and get elevators back into service faster when they shut down, thereby resulting in reduced downtime.

“Our team has built, piloted and continues to enhance our service apps portfolio with tools that help technicians be more proactive and effective with apps that expedite and enhance parts ordering, customer communication, predictive maintenance, ride quality as well as apps focused exclusively on employee safety to empower our employees to work smarter for our customers and safer for their own and family’s well being,” adds Joseph.

As part of iPhone deployment, it has deployed a digital collaboration app for mechanics to aid communication and global collaboration, removing language barriers and helping customers reap the benefits of the knowledge of more than 33,000 technicians and mechanics in real-time.

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